"It was a cascade of events that just worsened . . . and the lesson learned is obviously that dehydration is a serious issue and you shouldn't go out alone," Dr. Frederick Schiavone said. "You should always have enough water."
He said his fly-fishing patient, Dr. Jerome Nadler, 76, is now in "excellent" condition with a similar prognosis.
Schiavone made his remarks -- with Nadler at his side in a wheelchair -- shortly before Nadler was released from Stony Brook University Hospital. He'll undergo rehabilitation at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson for a couple of weeks before going home.
Schiavone said Nadler's 72 hours of exposure in Caleb Smith State Park Preserve earlier this month left him with rhabdomyolysis, which can be caused by prolonged exposure to the elements and can cause metabolic disorders and kidney failure.
"I can now say with much more assurance that the miracle was that he was found when he was found," Schiavone said. "Had he been out there longer, even hours, it would have been a much different outcome."
Nancy Nadler said she was elated when she learned her husband of 53 years was alive. She said "you bet" when asked if she was going fishing with her husband next time.
"You think I'm going to go through this again?" she said, smiling. "My husband is a remarkable man. I'm very lucky I found him when I was 17."
Nadler told Newsday earlier this week that the last thing he remembered was fishing alone on the Nissequogue River on Labor Day. He said he's not sure what happened, but knows one thing: "There is someone up there looking after me."
His disappearance sparked a massive search that included State Park Police and Suffolk Police marine officers and divers.
With William Murphy